Listen to the Public – But Pick Something that Works

Stockholm County Council has recently launched a site where you can vote for your favorite color for the yet-to-be-decided new subway line in Stockholm[1]

Screenshot of the main page of

I like the fact that they take the time to survey the public opinion since this is something Stockholm’s residents (and guests) will live with for many years to come and the color, while really just a tiny detail of setting up a new subway line, is something that is likely to become controversial if they pick the wrong one – but I really hope SL and the county council make use of the caveat they include in paragraph 5 in the voting rules: “The chosen hue may need to be adjusted to fit in with the other colors of the subway map.”

Screenshot of the rules at, with the cited part of paragraph 5 highlighted

Apart from the public liking the color, there are a number of factors that should be considered, which are not analyzed on the voting page[2]:

  • Does the color contrast well with the colors of the other subway lines when you are color blind?
  • Does it contrast well in dim/low light?
  • Does it contrast well on a bright day with reflexes on the information boards and signs?
  • Is the color easy to see when used not only on the subway maps but also on signs and guides throughout the stations?
  • What are the environmental consequences of the color choice? (If you, for example, need cadmium to get the right hue, it’d be good to pick another hue.)

And an aspect that is not as relevant today as it was 15 years ago:

  • Can you tell the subway lines apart if the map has been xeroxed?

…which, however, is still worth considering, given that a few of the travellers will print the subway map on black and white printers.

So Stockholm City Council and Stockholm Public Transport – thank you for listening to us, but remember to take the final responsibility for making the right choice!

UPDATE: It’s decided – the subway line will be yellow. I have no idea if they considered the other aspects or not: – Här är nya tunnelbanefärgen (in Swedish)

1. The county council is responsible for public transport in the county, running it through the company Stockholm Public Transport – “Storstockholms Lokaltrafik” – generally known as “SL”.   Tillbaka △

2. According to the voting information there is also supposed to be a motivation accompaning each color, but they seem to have been lost in the process.   Tillbaka △

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